‘What will happen?’ I looked to the others in turn, but they were giving nothing away.
‘What we think we know about our ancient past is a little different from the reality,’ Misses Brown went on, ‘One hundred thousand years ago the northern hemisphere was in the grip of an Ice Age. Down here in the Euphrates Valley things were different.’
A large image opened on the screen behind her. It was an overhead view of an area of swamp. In the middle was a single black building.
‘What is that?’ I asked.
‘No, an arcology. A self-contained community – like a city inside a single building. It is in a delta that will eventually become the two rivers today called the Euphrates and the Tigris. It’s one of two hundred such buildings around the world. We know where most of them are because the ancients told us where to find them. There are maybe ten or fifteen we cannot find – we presume them destroyed.’
‘These people who lived there. Were they human or did they come from outer space?’
‘We do not know for certain. They looked human so we presume they evolved here just like us,’ she frowned. It seemed she didn’t particularly want to answer what to her has irrelevant questions, ‘their language survived thanks to the people they carefully chose to pass it to – shamans and druids and eventually priests, imams and rabbis. It seems you are somehow fluent in this language despite having never previously encountered it. We would like to eventually understand why, but now things are more pressing. I want to try something now, here.’
I looked at her with suspicion. She picked up a small, black object from the lectern and brought it to me. It was round and about the size of a golf ball. ‘I would like you to open this.’
I picked it up and looked for an edge, somewhere to get a grip, but there was nothing so I tried to prise it open.
‘No Miss Salter, with your voice.’
I wrapped my hands around it, closed my eyes and concentrated.
Surprisingly, nothing happened and the others were disappointed; without knowing how to begin, what the hell did they expect?
I spent the next couple of days trying to relax my mind enough to “unlock” the language. I had the guidance of Mister Brown who taught me how to meditate, but he admitted to not having much hope. The others had studied the language – I was just the idiot who spoke gobbledegook in my sleep.
Four days later, Mister Brown and I were alone in the Conference Room with me trying again to open the ball.
Do you believe in God, Kara?’ He seemed uncomfortable using my forename, but I had come to trust and like him that it felt natural to me. On the other hand, I still did not know his name.
‘No,’ I just came out with it, ‘sorry.’
‘Don’t be. Neither do we,’ he responded bluntly, ’ I was once an Imam but had to leave when I found out about this. The others… keeping up the charade gives them a career and keeps them where they can help us most.’
‘So the religions of the world know about this?! Even the Pope?’
He looked wide-eyed, ‘I cannot speak for this Pope, but I will say few people know. If this ever became public and the Pope says he did not know… I would have no reason to believe he was lying.’
I nodded thoughtfully, ‘ancient knowledge? And I thought that was just kooky stuff like how sniffing cinnamon can cure anything, from depression to cancer.’
He grinned at that comment. ‘Still nothing?’ he gestured at the ball.
‘Billy is not responding.’
He chuckled. ‘ “Billy”?’
‘I thought, we’ve become quite close so he deserves a name. He doesn’t do anything I ask him, so I don’t think he’d make good husband material, unlike Danny. Talking of marriage, what about you and Misses Brown…?’
He grinned, ‘she is my sister.’
‘Oh, sorry!’ I blushed.
‘Look at Billy.’
He was as shocked as I was – Billy was open.